Troubled Waters

Normally, when a major clean-up effort for a polluted site is announced– an effort which will bring to bear the resources of both the local and federal government– environmentalists are happy. But this is Orange County, where the eco-friendly have often seen their green hopes fade to grey (and then get paved), so the announcement yesterday at Aliso N Wood Canyons Wilderness Park that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers will be joining the county to detox and otherwise improve Aliso Creek was greeted with suspicion by enviromentalists.

“They promised us we would have an opportunity to bring in our own scientists for a second opinion or a peer review for this super project. And — wham, bam — we have a press conference announcing it,” said Penny Elia, chairwoman of the Sierra Club's Save Hobo Aliso Task Force.

Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation, another environmental group, said they were waiting for more information.

Larry McKenney, manager of Orange County's Resources and Development Management Department, assured the Times that environmentalists have nothing to worry about. The cleanup/flood control plans for Aliso Creek unveiled yesterday– a sanitization plant near the bottom of the creek, and a series of 2 ft. rock steps to slow the flow of the water– are just preliminary, McKenney said, and there will be ample opportunity for input from environmental groups during a series of public meetings which begin next month. What more could you ask for? (OK, maybe a county government with a better track record on the environment. And maybe an EPA that hasn't been polluted with politics and seen its professionalism steadily evaporate over the past 5 years. And maybe some reliable assurance that the Army Corps of Engineers will take this smallish flood control project much more seriously than they took their major, decades-long responsibilty to protect New Orleans from flooding. Well, you're just going to have to settle for public meetings. Reassuring, no?)

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